01 July 2010

Loads of new stuff!

Where to begin??

Lots of new stuff since my last post - new job, new hair do and I've been playing with lots of new toys and tricks!

So I'm now working as a Media Developer in an eLearning team which I've very excited about. In the last 2 weeks I've used almost every program in the Adobe Master suite, built a new website, done a bit of film editing, thrown a bit of javascript around in Adobe Acrobat and started playing with the new bits and bobs in CS5!

Happy as a pig in mud :-)

28 May 2010

Concious incompetence

Just read an article on the Dunning-Kruger Effect. As the author Inchauste explains "As you grow at that skill, you begin to better evaluate your skills. Again, pretty logical reasoning here. If you know more about something, you know more about what you are doing wrong and how to improve it". Therefore if you don't know much i.e. you're unconsciously incompetent, you won't be able to assess yourself properly and are likely to overestimate how awesome you are.

So in that sense being self aware and having a bit of doubt isn't a bad thing...so long as it doesn't stop you from trying!

Typeface and Inspiration

I consider myself a greenhorn in terms of design and the web (the more I learn, the more I realise I don't know!). In an effort to see what people are doing in terms of best practice and common standards, I have been known to have a scan through an inspiration gallery to try to glean as much, from what someone has deemed to the the best of the best.

The author of the article Inspiration Kills suggests that although it's fun to see what everyone else is doing and be inspired by a clever solution uncovered by another designer, using these galleries to get unstuck from a creative block is likely to lead you to producing unoriginal work, they become "the thing that sucks up your imagination and fills the gaps with other people’s work". I have considered this before but I don't think one person has the solution to everything - it would be a waste of the internet not to be able to harness many people's views/ideas/solutions/knowledge but perhaps it's best to view them without a specific problem in mind - that way you get to use all of that good stuff but then hopefully be able to look at your project briefs with a clear mind (and a well stocked 'tool box') to find your own way of doing it best...

Continuing my fascination with fonts, I came across this lovely reference called Learn: Anatomy of a Typeface from Typedia. Clarifies all the jargon terms associated with typeface, in a neat list with diagrammatic examples!

27 May 2010

CSS3, Client questionnaires and awesome new tech!

Using CSS3 Transitions, Transforms and Animation - one to check out again when I get home on a non-IE browser...

For my new web design project, I sent out the questionnaire to the client I developed based on the one from Cotler/Goto's fabulously useful textbook. I've used it before with success as I found it helps the client solidify in their own mind what it is they want, as well as help you create a solid concept of the project's scope. The only problem is, it's a full page of questions which might seem quite daunting and a lot of work, particularly if it's a fairly basic job/assignment. I found this article by Bryan Arnold in which he lists just 10 core questions to ask in order to be able to produce killer designs. The core concepts behind most of them are very similar to those I use in my questionnaire (except for the one where you ask them for a picture/to be their friend on FB!). It's pitched more conversationally so will be a useful guide when I get a new client meeting...

As for cool new tech, Sony have unveiled a super flexible, thinner than a strand of hair OLED
- how awesome is that!? Can you imagine how cool it will be when you can make clothing that continually changes images? That woudl make up for the lack of hover boards in my near future...

26 May 2010

No, I haven't fallen off the planet...

Between job hunting, playing with Flash/Actionscript 3 and being sent to work in Brisbane last week, I've been a bit distracted!

After making the most of the free Lynda.com month I recieved when I purchased CS4, I built an AS3/Flash site to present the designs I created as part of the second stage interview for the position of 'Design Guru'.

I've also scanned and started transforming the sketches of the Byron character for the cartoon I'm creating for my nephew. I'm focusing on the face and facial expressions at the moment. There's still a fair bit of work to go (and I still have a few other characters to design/sketch up) but I'll have to start uploading my work in progress to the portfolio site. I forgot how much fun I used to have animating.

Speaking of the portfolio site, I'm bored of it already - I think it's time for a revamp. Hopefully the rest of this week will be slightly quieter and I can spend a bit of time playing with some styles and background images...

03 May 2010

Online and offline projects

So I've been refreshing myself, working my way through the Lynda essential training for CS4 (Flash complete, now revising Photoshop). As before, a lot of it is just stuff I already knew - the biggest challenge is trying to stay engaged to catch the bits that are new (or cool tricks I didn't know about!).

I've also started on character design/sketches for the Byron/Otto series. I've pulled out all of my character animation notes to remember the proportions to use for kids (5:1 body:head ratio) and am trying to nail the body/gestural shape before I start on the detail and real face of the character.

Finally getting to do the whole cap & gown thing on Wednesday - it feels an age since I finished up coursework, it will be good to finally get the piece of paper to prove it :-)

28 April 2010

Making the most of the freebie...

So I've just been through the entire 4+hrs of Lynda.com training on Flash CS4 Professional Essential Training. The majority was mind numbingly boring as it was stuff I already knew or was very similar to my CS3 experience but I was loathe to skip any of it as there were occasionally nuggets of gold scattered through out in the form of new tools, different methods of use etc. It was also nice to go through the 'Intro to AS3' chapter and not be freaked out by the code (which I recall doing the first time I saw AS3, way back when). I'm actually quite looking forward to playing with Flash again soon! (Although also plan to do at least some Photoshop CS4 and AS3 training in and around my projects. Might have to look at extending this subscription...)

Speaking of projects, I started on the story outline for 'The Adventures of Byron & Otto' this morning (the flash project for my nephew) and was quite happy with the idea I'd developed around a boy and his cat finding a magical key that opened doors to adventures etc. I've just had a chat with my brother and have been told that the story already exists i.e. there is a standard B&O story that starts of the storytelling at bedtime and it's something I can't mess with. *sigh* that's fine, I'm sure all my thought and work on my idea won't be wasted - I'll just have to add it to my ideas folder... Anyway, I've given instructions for the creation of a storyboard, sourcing of photos they might want to use and recording of sound for voice overs etc. so now, like with any client job, it's time to wait for content :-) In the mean time, I've been thinking I might animate the whole thing (or a lot of it), which means I can work on character & expression boards etc. I'm trying to think of what style to go with. The Little Ninja keeps popping into my head :-)

27 April 2010

New projects and flash stuff!

So, I just had a lovely long weekend in project limbo - still awaiting client sign off pre-live launch for the LIF2 site, so made the most of being slothful as with the new week comes new projects!

I've had an email from an ex-colleague who is in the process of setting up her own company and asked if I might be interested in designing/building her site - yay! Might be paid work, but also gives me a good chance to start from scratch and work in all the stuff I've learned along the way. I'm going to do it 'properly' and follow good user centred design process, so I'll be fishing out the old client questionnaire this week.

I've also had an idea for a couple of Flash projects. One is animating the Ashtanga yoga primary series, including a voice over with the names of the poses and breathing. I want to do it to help me learn it (as I'm still getting stuck on parts in the 6am Mysore classes), I haven't found anything like that out on the net and I think it would actually be really challenging from an animation perspective (might be more challenging than I expect, like the dance sequence in my uni project...). I think it would be a good way to try out the bones tool in CS4 which looks rather interesting!

I also had a call from my 6yr old nephew asking me to create cartoons starring him and his cat, having Batman-esque adventures. I've created short animations for him before, starring the family, occasionally with his voice over added in, so I think he's after something along those lines. I think this is something I might be able to include some level of interactivity into (and AS3!) so I might investigate this first. Although it means coming up with a story to animate...have to to away and be inspired, like I used to at uni. Speaking of inspiration, really enjoyed reading this article on the Myth of Inspiration - it got me thinking about what original ideas and design, mean...

I purchased CS4 Design Premium the other week and Adobe kindly threw in a 30 day Lynda.com subscription (I assume to make me feel better for just missing CS5?), so I've been scanning some of the early Flash tutorials just to refamiliarise myself with the software. It's been quite handy actually, learned about a couple of tools I haven't used much and keen to give them a test run...

But for now, I have to run - I've actually got an interview with an agency dude - I'm looking forward to having a chat with him to try to work out why people aren't thinking I want a junior role...

08 April 2010

Prepping photoshop file for devs


Great article for newbies on best determined practice for prepping a photoshop file for developers

31 March 2010

Version control

I used Subversion (with TortioseSVN and RapidSVN) when I was building Strine (including installing it on the team's machines and training them how to use it) and completely loved it.

Good version control on a project has always been important in my eyes after years of working in desktop publishing roles, where you go through any number of iterations and edits on a document.

I created my own version control system, where I label all of my documents with date, series label and owner initials, and sometimes time (e.g. File name 310310JTa 1745.ppt). I will save a new version any time I'm about to make a new set of significant changes (especially deleting), because you are guaranteed to have someone want that [page, chart, section] back right at the last minute. In a deadline driven environment, you don't want to have to recreate things.

Anyway, this system, although useful meant I chewed through space on my USB keys and after enough iterations on a project, it was a pain to scan through loads of files to look for the change you wanted to undo. When I started using SVN, it was like a dream come true - my OCD need for versioning could be satisfied easily! And across a whole team of people! Awesome tool.

Anyway, now I'm back to working on a solo project (LIF site redesign), I've reverted back to filling up my USB keys with versions of files. I don't like this system - I feel like I've flown business class and now I'm being forced to sit back in Economy again.

I was talking about SVN at the Web Blast evening last week with a gentleman named Sam, who told me all about other version control systems out there, as well as options for remote hosting. He suggested if I want to get into developing that this would be a good idea to set one of these up, as it would be an easy way to show people in interviews what my code actually looked like. I just liked the idea because I could work on my site build anywhere (including at work) and upload changes regularly - and save my usb keys!

Stack overflow had a useful thread on this exact topic. Tomorrow I'm planning to check out Unfuddle and Beanstalk and see which free hosting plan suits me best. They both also support Git, a different VCS. I think I'd like to try something else new, to add another feather in the cap.


OK, so as I mentioned on Planet J@net, I've been hard at work knocking over the redesign of the LIF site.

In the middle of all of this hard work, I stopped to attend the Web Blast drinks at the end of last week. Although I didn't land any job offers via my lovely new business cards, they did land me a great door prize - a Balsamiq licence! I love new toys :-)

Anyway, I spent a couple of hours on Monday playing with it, and re-mocked up a couple of pages page for the LIF site. I intentionally didn't read any instructions and just started fumbling around with it, to see how easy it was to use. Once I worked out what elements they had and where I needed to look to find them, it was pretty easy stuff.

I’m glad I did it, as it gave me a much clearer idea of how everything would fit on the new LIF page I was planning to build, which caused me to reconsider the proposed layout.

I liked the 'hand drawn' look of it (compared to say, using photoshop) because you could start to include some colour or style elements and there's no way a client would confuse your wireframes/mock ups for final designs. I’m not sure how far you could take adding style (I couldn’t work out a way to change the font type, but then you don’t need that for this stage in the build I guess), but I didn’t want to spend hours taking it through all its paces, as I have a site to build!

I think it would also be dead handy to use for things like user testing. It's also got a fairly good trial use (so long as you don't want to save anything or mind a message popping up every 5 mins asking you if you want to buy it). Anyway, I thought I'd post a couple of examples of what I built with it while I sat on the ferry (before I ran out of Macbook juice)

This is a mock up of the LIF home page (already code built). I practiced adding in colours and images - too easy! One issue I had was I chose to build it within a 'web page' element. This gave me a lovely image of a browser window (I could even edit the http: address) but it also added an inexact number of pixels to either side of the page and made it hard for me to judge exactly where things aligned (which is important as I’m using the 960 grid build). I don’t think the browser window added a lot of value (although a less savvy client might like seeing their site in a window). I think the better way to use it would be just to build the page on a blank screen, then group the finished piece and copy/paste it into a web page element before showing it to a client...

This is the mock up of the second page, training.html. Once I'd plotted out the images and took the grid sizing into account, I realised the text in the middle was going to have to stick to one column instead of the two I imagined in the PowerPoint mock up (see the grey shading in the middle). This saved me a lot of pain as I coded it this way directly.

I chose to use PowerPoint for my original mock ups as I am extremely familiar with it and can whip something up very quickly. I found Balsamiq offered a lot of the same controls and functionality (like easy access aligning tools), but had the added bonus of accurate scaling and very easy to use drag/drop controls. I would really have liked to have a ruler on both axis to work with (I know a window pops up when you resize objects, showing the dimensions but it’s not the same! I felt it was a bit too guess work/blind luck for my liking. I didn’t feel like I had enough control). This being said, I managed to get a couple of useful mock ups, very quickly, even though I was completely unfamiliar with the package. I look forward to trying it out again on the next new site build project...

26 March 2010

Fireworks alternatives


Fireworks alternatives on trial: Acorn, Drawit and Opacity

The best quote from the article:
"Why this post took so long
In order to trial these applications properly, you have to use them in anger. That is, on something real"

An interesting post. I'm always looking for alternatives to Adobe's $$$ software, and this has helped me to prioritise which one to learn first. I've tried using Acorn before but didn't have much joy. Quite keen to give Opacity a spin, based on this account.

25 March 2010

The business card!

I got my excellent business cards (thanks to Click Business Card's legendary turn around time)

I'm really happy with the way they turned out.

The excellent background handmade texture was created by Pareeerica.
I'm looking forward to handing out a bunch of these tonight at Web Blast!


So, now I'm starting to get the hang of the whole site build thing, I'm starting to want to do more with the style and design.

I know when it comes to web pages, I've been able to safely use a short list of fonts (Georgia, Verdana, Lucida, Arial, TNR), but if I wanted to create something more interesting looking, I've resorted to whipping up an image in Photoshop and inserting it in - which does no favours for me in terms of SEO or accessibility.

I came across an article via Smashing mag re Typekit, which opened my eyes somewhat to embedding typefaces - more of which was clarified by this article on Web fonts and standards and @font-face, which also had a handy link to the Tan method (clean 'hack') to make it work with IE, as well as a handy source of fonts available for @font-face embedding (free!).

Definitely an area to explore post LIF2...

I also learned a bit re fonts by reading this very useful (free!) Type classification handbook (and finally found out what san serif means :-/ I can't believe I never bothered to check before). It explained the 10 kinds of type classifications and gave examples of each. A handy way to increase my design vocabulary and gain some appreciation for the history and evolution of the different styles.

Free stuff!

I blame it on a left over student instinct to seek out free stuff

24 March 2010

The value of screen real estate

It's been a while since I've perused a Neilsen article, but this one popped up today and it seemed pertinent re my current redesign project:

Amusingly, the article requires scrolling to read in full, and just as Jakob predicted, I spent about 80% of my attention on what I first saw, and just scrolled down through the rest.
The reason the article stuck with me is because I bothered to read the last gem of a point, "Finally, while placing the most important stuff on top, don't forget to put a nice morsel at the very bottom". Excellent.

So, in the visual design course at uni I learned about page structure, and the bottom of the page being reserved for detail etc. But if people have short attention spans and loathe clicking through page views (as per Neilsen's article), how do you get the information to them? Is it just a matter of banging out a couple of succinct key points at the top to hook them into reading on? Or do we need to just keep everything that's not a novel, short and sweet? And then the big catch - how do you convince the client that this is the way to go ;-)

The other conundrum is - what constitutes the size of the first page view? People are using all sorts of devices, from full monitor screens, to laptops, notebooks, not to mention mobile devices, to view pages these days. I'm in the process of converting my mock-ups for the LIF2 redesign project (see the Planet J@net blog) - what I get to see when working on that first page on my lap top is different to what I see on my full desk monitor. That massive picture taking up the RHS of the page (which is larger that I'd originally intended, thanks to the 960 grid I'm using), now seems like a terrible use of space. Maybe I'll go back and use the 16grid instead of the 12...

Something to aspire to...


Watch the 25yr old graphic designer pull together this photoshoot wallpaper. A nice study in approach to a photoshop image build (and comforting to know this guy is awesome and it took him 6hrs and 1000+ layers to achieve)

18 March 2010

Articles to review

I've been so busy lately with website redesigning, job hunting, life and most annoyingly, actual work, that I keep coming across articles/resources I'd like to read/review, but don't seem to have a moment to do so. They're getting lost in the twitter stream, so I thought I'd log them somewhere for those down time moments...

Postition absolute - web design opinion pieces

Search patterns library

Free guides that teach you stuff

Google analytics in depth

Random password key generator (when mashing the keys just won't do...)

07 March 2010

960 grid - the plan

So, after reading up on the logic behind the grid system, as well as a couple of other papers/theories re grid design (incl. discussions from Khoi Vinh and Cameron Moll), I'm going to give the 960 grid a go.

I've already had fun downloading the bookmarklet gridder (http://gridder.andreehansson.se/) and applying it to lots of different pages. I think I'm going to realise it's worth more when I start building...

I'm going to try the css and html code generator at http://headless-studios.com/960.ls/# and see what I get...

960 grid system - the background

So I found a blog post by the creator of the 960 grid system

I think I'm going to try using for the LIF2 build for a couple of reasons...
1) It seems to make sense to me
2) It looks 'right' to me re total width of page as well as column division sizes
3) It takes into account accessibility issues and addresses some typographic ideas I didn't know about. e.g. Not having played at all with Linux browsers, I had no idea I should be considering choice of fonts for real cross browser compliance
4) It doesn't apply too much styling - appears to be less than Blueprint (http://www.blueprintcss.org/) so I don't feel like I'm 'cheating' so much using a grid builder
5) It doesn't claim to the best/better than everything else out there. I like the fact that the author just puts this forward as something that works for him, and if you happen to find it works for you, well awesome.
6) It plays well with IE6/7
7) It's free!

It's an experiment anyway, so lets see how it goes...

04 March 2010

Launch into fitness Mark II

As discussed yesterday, I plan to give LIF a face lift.

I've roughly mocked up the main pages in the new site using Powerpoint. I've blogged those over on the Planet J@net (www.jugger0.blogspot.com), which I used during the development of the original site, and will do so again for Mark II. I'll keep this blog development free as much as possible...

03 March 2010

Considering organic design...

I watched Ross Lovegrove's talk on Organic Design this morning on the way to work (http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/ross_lovegrove_shares_organic_designs.html) and it got me thinking about creativity and design.

Looking at his design lab and hearing how he thinks/develops ideas reminded me of the start of each uni semester during the brainstorming stage - the way I'd seek out all manner of random 'cool' things from all over the place to get me thinking/inspire me to start churning out ideas for projects. You become hypersensitive and really see things in different ways. It can really be fun and quite exciting (once you finally come up with an idea that is - it can be a bit nerve wracking before that with deadlines looming and production time still needing to be factored in!)

At one point Ross was marvelling at some dinosaur skeletons in a museum. He remarked how looking at these creatures was daunting, as such amazing design evolved over a very long period of evolution - how on earth was he supposed to create/design new form in a much shorter time frame?

This sentiment is not dissimilar to lots of thoughts I've been having lately re my own design skills. It has been quite daunting for me to look at the portfolios of other designers/developers and think of how mine places (so poorly!) along side them (even though I'm just pitching at a junior/newbie level, I can't help but compare myself to more experienced peeps - I know employers will be as well...)

I think my best tact going forward is to:
1) use other people's experience and design knowledge that has evolved over the web years to bring me up to speed e.g. sites like Smashing Magazine or the Yahoo! pattern library
2) be patient with myself and understand the knowledge/skill will develop in time

I also think a good plan would be to update the design of the Launch into Fitness website. When I built it, I did so mainly as an exercise in learning how to use different types of code. I've learned a bit about design since then, I think I'd be doing myself a favour by showcasing how I've evolved...


OK, so my very good friend Marla did me a massive favour and had a developer at her digital agency (someone that I don't know!) review my academic portfolio. What came out of that exercise was an honest evaluation and constructive feedback, which is exactly what I need right now.

He didn't have a great deal of time to view it and it was interesting to see the sorts of things he picked out to look at (and they weren't necessarily my best work - which isn't what I wanted!). I don't know why I sound surprised - you'd think with all of the awesome success I had with user testing feedback in all of my uni projects, I would have thought to 'user test' before now.

The portfolio, as it stands, shows the work I completed for each subject in my degree, in chronological order. I was hoping it would show how much I evolved/improved over the two years. What I didn't think about was people are more likely to just flick through the site and scan through the work, and the current set up doesn't really suit that. It looks like I'm going to have to create a new (abridged) portfolio site, with just the main pieces that I think best demonstrate my skill set (and somewhere I'll be able to start collecting new things I working on).

I cringe thinking about the agencies I've sent the link to, not to mention the job I applied for (that I was really keen on!!) - people have seen it in it's current sub-optimal state, it's no wonder I haven't heard back from them!! Oh well. I think before I start chasing those up I should probably sort out my online presence...like getting a hair cut pre-interview :-)

25 February 2010

More on outdated browsers...

So, I'm hoping either work is going to upgrade their browser, or I find new work soon...


YouTube is joining Google (and many other sites) in shunning IE6.

Good news from a designer POV (I really like the idea of IE6 disappearing and not ever having to muck about tweaking/setting up separate IE style sheets) but more narky banners for IE6 users, arrgghh!!!!!

24 February 2010

Speaking of outdated browser experiences...

BIG pet hate of mine...

At work I am forced to use IE6, as I am not allowed to install anything of my own accord on the company's computer. I know it's possible to run at least Chrome off a USB stick, but honestly, I can't be bothered. I understand that using an outdated browser means I will have a less than optimal web experience, but I am willing to wear it as the cost of my laziness (not wanting to add a single extra step to access my email/the news/update my blog/maintain Strine).

What I loathe are websites that plaster a hate banner across the top of their site, informing me that I am using a crap browser, that I should update, that I'm clearly a moron etc. I really get defensive - I want to tell them 'I'm at work and I don't have a choice!!! I use all of the latest browsers on my laptops at home!!! arrgghh!' Really annoying. Most annoying because I know I do actually have a choice, but having someone point out how lazy I am does not make me a happy person....

What I'd prefer is something I saw in Elliot Jay Stock's talk on Progressive enhancement at Webdirections South last year (http://www.webdirections.org/resources/elliot-jay-stocks-progressive-enhancement/). During his discussion on understanding different browser capabilities and appreciating sites don't have to look identical across them all, he showed us a site I loved - http://www.stuffandnonsense.co.uk/ Old browsers show a black and white site, new browsers are in colour. Reward progressive people, don't harangue the late majority...nice!

J.K. Rowling - Commencement address

Love a good TED talk...

This version loads better in work's outdated IE6 browser: http://www.vimeo.com/1711302

23 February 2010

16th AIMIA award finalist!

Still getting excited about Strine making the finalist list for the 16th AIMIA award nominations for best student project! Feeling in very good company, scrolling through the other award finalists' projects...

15 February 2010

'Real-world Flash Game dev' - where I'm at

So, I'm through the first couple of chapters of the book, but not playing with AS3 yet...
I've been caught up with the whole job application process, sending off letters to the awesome-looking digital agencies (not cold calling, but cold emailing :-)), hoping to catch someone thinking about hiring an eager and keen paid intern/junior flash developer. I realised quite a few companies didn't have an email address to send my cv to, but were contactable through LinkedIn, so I've just been developing my LinkedIn profile (and got sucked in hooking up with old contacts/friends...the social networking collecting game begins again...).

Anyway, back to the book.

So, the first three chapters dealt with Flash (how it evolved, an overview of what it is/isn't good for) as well as some basic concepts re games and game development (although I'd covered this in way more depth in my Comp Game Design subject, there were a couple of handy checklists I might employ).

I've started on Chapter 4 //FTW! which covers best practices programming in AS3. I started to freak out a bit as he's starting to talk about classes, instances, assets etc and code sections are starting to appear, but I know I'm being silly. I've actually come across and used all of these sorts of things before, in GameMaker as well as in some of Strine's tpl/php code. I think it's one of those things that when you use it, it makes sense, but it's no longer fresh in my mind so I might have to go back and play with a bit of code (or read one of my development blogs) so it all means something to me again.

27 January 2010

Life and stuff

So, I've been a bit distracted the past couple of weeks. Been spending a hell of a lot of time menu planning and cooking (damned healthy new years resolutions...). Strine.net.au maintenance has also ramped up, post-AIMIA award finalist announcement.

A definite highlight was buying new snorkelling fins on the weekend (yay!) so I've been zooming around Shelly beach/Fairy Bower and terrorising all the poor Blue Gropers and cuttlefish. I've been snorkelling for years, but never pushed myself to buy fins. Not sure exactly why. Sure there's the expense of laying out the cash for something I didn't think I really needed, but when it came down to it, I think I was just freaked out by using them, or more likely finding out I couldn't use them. It seemed my worst fears were confirmed when I first jumped in the water with them. I completely struggled to get them on my feet in the water, then kept getting them tripped up on each other with my first kicks. I felt wobbly and a bit panicky, completely uncomfortable and useless with my new toys, but I persisted. All of the sudden, it just seemed to work. Suddenly the water was rushing past my head and I was covering a lot of 'ground', very quickly. I tried diving and was (almost) keeping up with the escaping fish! It was awesome! I now have the confidence to head out into sections of water I never would have before and am completely in love and all excited again about an old hobby.

The reason I've delved into detail about this is I've drawn an anaolgy between snorkelling fins and AS3. I think I've been procrastinating re starting the studying, worried it's going to be beyond me and I'm going to fail, which is just bloody ridiculous. As with all of the other code I've learned/used, and with the snorkelling fins, it's not going to feel natural at first and things won't work, but that's when I will work out how to make it work, in no time I'll be making my own interactive Flash fish etc etc.

OK, enough of the pep talk. A little less conversation, a little more action.

So I raided the uni library (while I still have borrowing privileges) and picked up a couple of books that look quite handy:
  • Chris Griffith's 'Real World Flash Game Development' which looks OK, takes you through basic game programming concepts (including design sections, which I feel quite OK about skipping :-), AS3 and apparently has some game examples and code to practice with at a companion website www.flashgamebook.com
  • Shupe & Rosser's 'Learning Actionscript 3.0' because it looks like it takes you from basics, and it might be handy to have to fill in more details when things I try to do don't make sense
  • Webster, Yard & McSharry's 'Actionscript 3.0 with Flash and Flex', just because I like books, and it's a back up in case Shupe & Rosser aren't a good fit for me. (Actually I always go a bit overboard at libraries. I get excited and just can't help myself...)

So the plan for tonight is to get a start on Griffith's tome, if I can resist the pull of iPhoto's Faces...

15 January 2010

trawling and research - AS3

So I'm having a bit of a scan around to see if there's any free Actionscript 3 tutorials online that I can start looking at in my downtime here at work. I found Warm Forest's top 8 resources for learning AS3 online, which had a couple of interesting looking things which might be worth scanning later. They did make a good point though - as I found with all the uni projects, the best way to learn code is to do code i.e. set yourself a project and make mistakes/go through the trial and error process.

So what I might do is read Senocular's getting started guide to get an idea of what it can do/what it's all about/OOP and then try to build something at home. I'm thinking I might just try to build myself an existing basic flash game and see how that goes. I've also put a request in for a beginners guide at the uni library (hoping I still have borrowing privileges!)

Other than (obviously) Google, these resources might be worth adding to my link list

Gotoandlearn.com Loads of video tutorials on all manner of Flash things
Lynda.com Loads of video tutorials on all manner of things

14 January 2010

Got to start somewhere...

So, now I've finished with my degree it's time to start some self-directed 'study' or research.

I wanted somewhere to jot down my thoughts and collate my findings - another blog seemed a sensible place to start, which led to the spawning of Tot's jots.

I'm about to look for a role to kick off my career as a flash developer (I think!), so I've been doing a bit of research into Sydney's digital agencies
OK, I lost the rest of that brilliant post when I logged out of Gmail before publishing it... derr!!!

Anyway, I was about to mention the fact that during my research I came across Unity 3D game builder for PC, Mac and web, which is now available to download for free! http://unity3d.com/

I'm tempted to have a play with it - just converting Stink bug to a new format, but as my plan was to learn Actionscript 3 first and foremost, I should probably focus on that for now. Might help with the job seeking process. Anyway, thought I'd log the site somewhere so i can come back to it a bit later on...